Category Archives: Books

Roots and Wings

Aside from the pitter patter of pet paws and my own keyboard clicks, the house is strangely silent. As a mom of an almost five year old, this hush doesn’t happen often.

Maeve is two houses away, playing inside with two long-time neighbor girls a few years her elder – and they all are delighted. Yesterday the new threesome played in our home, reading books, dressing up, chasing cats and even plopping down at the kitchen table to ask for a snack.

This is all so new to me. Now, we’ve shared playdates with preschool friends or meet-ups at the park – but as I’ve learned today, that’s so very different than letting her “be” without me or her dad. It’s just not about her being sans parent sidekicks, but we’ve orchestrated most every decision since we changed her first diaper. (Apologies to the future tweeny Maeve reading this. Yes, I mentioned your diapers to the world. Cue eye-roll … now!)

And in these moments I wonder if she will remember all we’ve tried to instill. Who will she “be” when not reminded by omnipotent voices from a few feet away to say thank you. Pick up the toys when you’re done. Take turns. Share. Be helpful. Use your kind voice. Make a good choice.

In five months, I’ll watch her enter elementary school as a kindergartner. Will she bravely bound inside, eager for new adventures? Or will she look back at me for assurance one last time before the door closes behind her? (If it’s anything like her first day at daycare when I returned to work, perhaps I should arrange for someone to get me home afterwards – who can see through all those tears to safely navigate a car through the streets?)

My mind sends me a reminder notice that this is just the beginning of an independence I’m supposed to be cultivating. You know, roots and wings.

Yet my maudlin heart responds with equal urgency that the moments are fleeting, the cuddles are numbered and it won’t be long before we’re not holding hands in public anymore.

I can’t help but be reminded of an excerpt in the book Tuesdays with Morrie:

“Life is a series of pulls back and forth. You want to do one thing, but you are bound to do something else. Something hurts you, yet you know it shouldn’t. You take certain things for granted, even when you know you should never take anything for granted. … A tension of opposites, like a pull on a rubber band. And most of us live somewhere in the middle.”

That tug-of-war in my heart is as fierce as her concentration while pumping on the playground swings or pushing her little Chucks into the pavement – handlebar tassels blowing in her breeze – as she and her Radio Flyer scooter sail away. Away from me, from her dad. Away from needing us so completely. Away from the cocoon we’ve enveloped her in since the day she made us a family.

The stillness in the house suddenly cuts sharply, and my thoughts are rattled back to the here and now as I hear the laughter and chatter of three new pals heading toward me, and just a few minutes after the return time I’d assigned.

The door swings open and the gleam in her eye is blinding. The energy she radiates brings me back to the bliss of my own childhood when the only concern was what to play next and how much time before dark.

Maeve smiles at me, and in this moment of welcoming, I feel so strongly the connection we’ve carefully cultivated while in that little cocoon.

That passage from Tuesdays with Morrie ends with this: “Which side wins? Love wins. Love always wins.”

Indeed.

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Filed under Adoption, Books, Children, Family, Firsts, Growing up, Life changes, Love, Maeve, Parenting

Book lovers unite!

Ooh, ooh, ooh! Thought I’d share two cool recent book-related website finds.

The first is for all you children’s book author wannabes (my name is soooo on that list!). Biguniverse.com is a fun new site that not only sells children’s books, you can read them online first for free — so if you’re looking to buy, but it’s not a book you’re familiar with, you can not only judge the book by its cover, you can actually read it, front to back, and decide if it’s for you. So far there are several hundred books available for purchase there, all of which can be read completely first.

My favorite part about the site, and here’s where the author-aspiration part comes in, is its “Create” tab — click it and get down to business writing your own children’s book. Choose your fonts, illustrations, text, title, cover, pages, all of it. It’s just a cool (totally time-consuming, be-prepared-to-get-sucked-into-it) exercise to see it come to life right before your eyes. You know, to help you keep the dream alive. If nothing else, it’s something to do with all that extra time on your hands. Ha.

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The other site — and I know I’m late to the party on this one having only recently found it — is bookcrossing.com. I love the thinking behind it: recycling books you no longer want and “setting them free” to travel the world and land into the hands of people you’ve never met. And, best of all, you can even track your former book’s travels!

Imagine, the site says, leaving a book on a park bench, in a coffee shop or in a hotel while on vacation for someone else to find. I can’t help but think I’d keep wondering if and when someone found it and whether the surprise made their day! There’s something mysterious and romantic about the idea. Yes. I know. I’m strange that way.

OK, so imagine being the person who stops to rest on the bench and sees a book sitting all by its lonesome. You look around but don’t see anyone that looks like they belong to it. So you flip over the cover. A bookplate explains it’s been set free and is yours for the reading. An unexpected gift. (And we can all agree that books and reading are a gift, right?) Bring it home, log onto the site and mark the book “captured.” When you’re done, set it free and check in later on the site to see when it’s found a new home.

The site boasts that 651,923 people in more than 130 countries have “shared their passion for books with the world.” In fact, the term “bookcrossing: n. the practice of leaving a book in a public place to be picked up and read by others, who then do likewise,” was added to the Concise Oxford English Dictionary in 2004.

Yeah, I’m definitely late to this party. If you are too, don’t fret. We’ll go together. Click your state, find your town or the closest one with a book that’s been set free and not yet captured, and your adventure awaits.

Cool, eh?

(My problem is actually letting go of the books in the first place.  Just ask all my stuffed bookcases, the boxes of books in the attic that I can’t part with, and my husband, who’s carried them up and down and around over the years with me pointing where I want them.  Rrrrright.)

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Filed under Books, Children's books, For fun